Capitalism and Media

While there is much controversy going on about The Weather Underground, it is pertinent that we note that their main goal was the same reason we have White Privilege Awareness today. To get white kids to identify with anti-racism and anti-imperialism, which in their perspective came inevitably with armed struggle. The Weather Underground ultimately failed for a multitude of reasons, some having to do with our government, as Anthony has pointed out in his article “Guerilla Militancy: A Viable Option?”. Other mistakes have to do with their own tactical mishaps (i.e. Greenwich Village Townhouse Explosion), the struggle of gaining the masses (seen in “Days of Rage”), and the struggle of organizing whites against white supremacy. For these reasons The Weather Underground serves as an influential historical perspective of grass roots activism against white supremacy.

Terrorism is a social construct (talked about in “Violence and Terrorism”) and a complicated issue at that, which we note in our “Discussion on Terrorism”. Why is The Weather Underground framed as “terrorists” and not The Boston Tea Party?–Who have along with the government done much worse. Violence and white supremacy were all issues that The Weather Underground brought up and still don’t have any answers to. Despite not having all of the answers, they believed what was worse was not acting at all. Capitalism shapes our history, just as George Oswell put it in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four, “Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

With this information, discussions are encouraged to find deeper meaning to and from The Weather Underground which will add to our understanding of human connection, communication and social movements.

Days of Rage

On October 8th-10th 1969, The Weathermen hosted a protest in Chicago. Fallowing John Jacobs ideology of “bringing the war home”, this protest was title “Days of Rage”, and was created in an effort to bring public awareness to a higher level about the war in Vietnam. This protest in accordance with Vietnam was also an effort to bring to light the ideology of a brutal imperialistic America.

Although the protest failed to draw as many members as expected, only a few hundred attended, the event did not fail to raise public awareness, and present a message. The first rally held on October 8th, shocked the public eye when members of the Weatherman rioted through Chicago’s upper-class Gold Coast neighborhood. They smashed the windows of parked expensive cars, broke into lining banks, and multiple retail business, as well as attempting arson on one of mentioned banks. The riot continued 4 blocks before encountering police barricades. These first barricades however, where broken by rioters, and the protest continued until finally Chicago police sent in over 500 officers with tear gas and riot gear to quell the rioters. In the aftermath 28 police officers where injured, 6 Weatherman where shot, and another 68 members where arrested.

Although the Weatherman held no more rallies until October 10th. On October 9th, Mike Klonsky, and Noel Ignatin with the S.D.S held a peaceful march  of over 2000 international members through Chicago.

On October 10th the Weathermen continued their demonstrations marching through the Loop, Chicago’s premier business area. With over 300 protesters the Weatherman where being watched by multiple line of riot officers. Despite this protection the Protesters eventually broke through the line officers smashing car windows and store fronts. This however only lasted about 15 minutes, and resulted in the arrest of about half the Weathermen members.

Although the Weathermen protest resulted in the incarceration of many members, the idea behind the riots was not lost, nor was the message. The actions of “Days of Rage”, would act as a cataclysm, for the S.D.S December convention in Flint Michigan, aptly named the Flint War Council.

Communiqués and Publications

You Don’t Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows (New Left Notes, June 18, 1969) “Long live the victory of the peoples war!” This lengthy piece is the Weather Underground’s Manifesto. The manifesto focused on how to overthrow capitalism and make a communism base while using international forces, such that they had been gaining from trips to Cuba. After explaining their struggle for “Socialist Self-Determinism” they defined black liberation as revolution.

WUO reminds us that it was born out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement faction of Students for a Democratic Society –something like 50% of people were under the age of 18 in the 70’s; as well as most likely working class– which is fighting US imperialism, their goal? Communism. By stressing the impact of US imperialism internationally as well as nationally, WUO hope to provide an answer questions of the nature of the organization. WUO provides two stages that they believe will have to happen for revolution. The anti-imperialist stage and the socialist stage. One to rally up the masses and one to make change.

The Weather Underground didn’t always plan on bombing buildings. In fact their first Communiqué wasn’t about a bomb at all. Issued on May 21, 1970 it was “A declaration of a State of War”. Making known that:

“Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks. If you want to find us, this is where we are. In every tribe, commune, dormitory, farmhouse, barracks and townhouse where kids are making love, smoking dope and loading guns- [where] fugitives from Amerikan justice are free to go.”

The Weather Underground found it important to ally third world countries and their rebellions in order to strengthen the fight at home. Subsequent communiques including Communiqué 2 written on June 9 and Communiqué 3 written on July 26, 1970, were announcements of bombs that they were taking credit for. Both of which they called in before hand to try to make sure no one was hurt. In response to things like the murder of Fred Hampton, Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and Amerikan imperialism riots and bombs were communicated to the public. The communiqué’s were written not only to give reasoning for their violence but also to make connections and alliances throughout the country.

The fourth Communiqué was written on September 15, 1970 after the successful escape of Timothy Leary from prison, who joined The Weather Underground in their war, despite his previous non-violent stroke. Leary also wrote “The P.O.W. Communiqué” noting the time for peace has past, that “this is a war for survival” and calling for mass resistance.

“New Morning” issued in December of 1970 was another communiqué that didn’t accompany a bomb. This communication directly responds to the townhouse explosion that killed three of their own. In response to the incident there was a massive tactical move from their previous intentions to bomb the police ball in Fort Dix, to attacking symbols of American Imperialism. This shift is hidden by the media when they describe WUO as “terrorists”. In this article they write “Kent and Augusta and Jackson brought to all of us a coming of age, a seriousness about how hard it will be to fight in Amerika and how long it will take us to win.” This article is their first communication that personalizes their story, speaks about specific actions and brings humanity to the WUO. These are probably the same reasons it has been excluded from the media’s coverage, unlike Dohrn’s other communiqués which are quoted often.

Other publications include “Prairie Fire” (1974) and “Osawatomie” (1975). Prairie Fire, a manifesto calling again for mass resistance against US imperialism. As for Osawatomie, you can’t hear about it now-a-days without seeing Obama criticism. A newspaper written and published while they were underground was a successful way of working from the inside for revolution. The paper concerns itself with Weather Underground issues and tries to encourage action on the local level to organize a socialist movement.

Communiqués were important because they not only announce and take credit for bombs, it was a way to “share thoughts, ideas and analysis with the movement” according to Dan Berger’s article “The Weather Underground’s place in history: A response to Jonah Raskin, Socialism Democracy”. Communiqués were important for making the WUO’s ideology known and spreading their message.